Skip to Navigation

Opinion and Analysis: Media Watch | Military | Opposition

Opposition Lawmaker Maria Corina Machado Makes Miami Headlines

In another attempt to discredit Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, one of the country’s most reactionary right-wing lawmakers recently issued a set of “warnings” that her country is allegedly developing a massive “guerrilla army” to fight against the United States.

Published in Miami’s El Nuevo Herald, Venezuelan opposition politician Maria Corina Machado claimed a so-called “Plan Sucre” intends to train several million “militiamen” by 2019. While she failed to provide any evidence, Machado did succeed in catching international media attention just weeks before presidential elections that will most likely secure President Chavez another six years in office (2013-2019).

Known largely for her defense of Thatcher-esque “popular capitalism”, a failed attempt to revoke President Chavez’s mandate in 2004, and her open support of the short-lived 2002 coup against Chavez, Maria Corina Machado told El Nuevo Herald of a “secretive plan” she warned will be implemented if Chavez wins this year’s presidential election. First published by the Miami-based paper on Friday, the story was also picked up by Agence France Presse (APF), England’s The Telegraph, Radio Netherlands, and France 24, amongst other press services.

According to the anti-Chavez lawmaker, who claimed an “unnamed” military official provided her a hard copy of the “secret plan”, an electoral victory for President Chavez this coming October 7 will result in the implementation of what she called “Plan Sucre”, or in her words, the “transformation” of Venezuela’s “professional army into a guerrilla army”.

Though she didn’t make a copy of the plan available, Machado went on to affirm that “the strategic objective (of Plan Sucre) is to build a new Bolivarian Military Doctrine aimed at successfully implementing a prolonged popular war” against the United States if and when the US invades Venezuela. “Clearly”, she said, “this is a proposal with Cuban inspiration and advice”.

Machado warned the plan calls for “strengthening the territorial militias in order to ensure the necessary strength for the overall defense of the nation, targeting recruitment levels of one million by 2013 and two million by 2019”.

According to El Nuevo Herald, “the initiative also implies the training and indoctrination of civilians in defense of the Bolivarian Revolution” and “is now part of the Development Plan of the National Armed Forces of Venezuela, an unpublished document signed by Chavez and sent to his most loyal followers within the Armed Forces”.

El Nuevo Herald went on to cite Profesor Luis Fleischman, of Florida Atlantic University, who affirmed that President “Chavez has been unable to generate the sufficient coercive power he needs to finish his ‘project’”. Leaving said “project” undefined, Fleischman added that the Bolivarian Militia “is the radical change Chavez needs to consolidate his power”.

Characters in Context

Understanding the sources of baseless attacks on Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution and socialist President Hugo Chavez is an important part of interpreting their intentions.

Machado’s background, for example, places her at the center of US-backed strategies aimed at preventing Venezuelan socialism from advancing. With respect to El Nuevo Herald, a brief glance at their headlines demonstrates a clear intent to demonize the numerous democratic transformations underway in Venezuela.

Regarding Maria Corina Machado, who represents herself as an “advocate of democracy”, a piece written in 2006 by then Council on Hemispheric Affiars (COHA) Director Larry Birns noted that “claims by Sumate’s leadership of their ideological impartiality and autonomy from foreign influence are laughed off the stage when one considers that (Maria Corina) Machado, a founding member of the organization and a lethal Chavez foe, met for 50 minutes last May (2005) with President Bush in the Oval Office – an honor that, as of yet, has not been extended to Venezuela’s democratically-elected president or to many domestic NGOs”.

“Such cordiality regarding Machado”, he added, “was based on a harmonious special view of the world and a shared odium for leftist values, between the US president and Venezuela’s Madam Defarge, aka Maria Corina Machado”. According to Birns, Machado “didn’t just happen to be accidentally present, as she claims, when the backers of the failed 2002 anti-Chávez coup joined Machado in signing their names on the coup decree, and proceeded to shut down the country’s basic institutions, like the Supreme Court and the legislature, while elsewhere Chavez was being physically seized”.

Online analysis website Axis of Logic also pointed out that when Maria Corina Machado “was president of Sumate, Eva Golinger discovered through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that the organization received millions of US dollars from Washington-based tional Endowment for Democracy (NED) to fund the Venezuelan opposition”.

“In February 2010”, Axis of Logic wrote, “Machado resigned from Sumate and won election as a Justice First Party candidate to the National Assembly in Chacao, one of the strongest opposition electoral districts in Caracas”. The opposition’s 2012 presidential candidate, Henrique Capriles Radonski, is a leading member of the Justice First Party.

With respect to El Nuevo Herald, it’s worth noting that the author behind last week’s article, “Chavez Prepares ‘In Secret’ for US Invasion” (August 10, 2012), is Antonio Maria Delgado, an anti-Chavez critic tasked with producing headline after headline of anti-Venezuela propaganda.

Apart from last week’s article, other Delgado pieces include “Two of Every Three Venezuelans Live in Fear, According to Polls” (August 14, 2012), ”Iran Has Its Private Port in Venezuela” (June 25, 2012), and “Chavez Cedes Control of Oil to China” (September 9, 2011), to cite just a few. In every one of these cases, Delgado based his articles solely on sources openly hostile to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, failing to provide evidence or at least some degree of balance to his pieces.